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1 viktor futó
entrepreneur, coder
Age 23

"I had usually been the odd one out: intelligent, driven, curious, and a huge math geek. But I also constantly second-guessed myself, even when my gut was telling me to go for it. I needed to change something because I felt stuck, and needed a way to move on."

Viktor Futó has always seen computers as the most efficient tool for creation and self-expression. Even before he got his first machine at four years old, he remembers pretending to use a computer he had built out of Cheva blocks (the soviet version of Lego) and some stray wires, and then pretending to program it. Through a stroke of luck, in 1999 his family got one of the earliest internet connections in Slovakia. As he slowly engaged with the magic of computers, having long been passionate about encyclopedias and learning, he gradually started to realize the many possibilities this medium held. Finally, at 12 Viktor realized that he would not actually be able to read all the world’s books and know everything in his lifetime.

But instead of letting himself get discouraged, he resolved to search for and discover a way of organizing information and improving the learning process such that comprehension of any subject would come as easily as walking down a red carpet. It was there and then that the idea for Brainec was born: the project to identify and build that red carpet technology of learning. Growing tired of working on side projects, at 18 he finally followed his love and started coding. But after grappling with the problem for so long, Viktor was searching for a way forward and finally found it in Exosphere Academy.

Viktor came to Exosphere looking to take Brainec to the next level. Diving deep into topics like lean startup, design thinking, and the mechanics of building a sales funnel, he took highly theoretical ideas and made them tangible. With the help of his course mates he built, scrapped, and rebuilt the project’s code several times. His work payed off when Cisco invited him to demo the platform to their Executive team. Today, he finally has a product he can be proud of, and already professors in Czech Universities are starting to experiment with Brainec in a learning setting.

“I find the experience hard to describe. Sure, you learn important skills, build strong relationships, and become part of a powerful network – all that is true. But it’s more than that… I don’t know exactly what happened during that time, but I feel like my linear line of progress changed into an exponential one.”

“I understand now that mostly it's me and people behind the project who are responsible for its success. There's no such thing as ideal environment, customers or conditions - one has to bring it up for himself. One cannot be just tinkering with the forces of change, one has to be the force of change itself.”

2 laura bui
Age 26

"I was in prep school. I returned from a year of acting in London and went back to La Sorbonne Paris IV for Literature. I was working on my startup and realized I needed to add something new to my life."

Laura was really interested in theatre, acting, and even directing. She worked at a production company in the City Cinema of Luc Besson. She learned alot about the business and decided to open her own production company with a famous music producer. They worked on many audiovisual projects together. She also directed TV shows and wrote scripts and screenplays.

She then created a new startup called Allmedia. She was doing everything she could to develop the project on her own. But she grew tired of “being alone, and fighting in the water.” Their team had trouble finding the appropriate platform to tell the world about their startup. She realized that she needed new people in her life, to learn UX, and to meet other ambitious people doing cool things.

After her time at Exosphere Academy, she went to China with her friend PA to demo his project at Fab12. He was a keynote speaker talking about MakerNet. She returned to France and is working with her team to develop version 2 of Allmedia.

“I wasn’t necessarily looking for Exosphere. I didn’t find it myself. I knew I needed to meet new people, get more skills and new ideas. And I needed to go to a far away country to go deep inside myself to find my real motivations. When I met PA, he told me about Exosphere and that it would change my life. I decided to follow his lead, and I’m glad I did.”

“What I am still most impressed by is the people I met at Exosphere and their radical dedication to helping other people. The time spent on community building was an amazing human experience. Exosphere’s vision of what is wrong with society and how to fix it, still deeply resonates with me. I was able to remember why I was suffering for my cause, why I launched my startup, and why I was still working to bring this vision to life. I want to build a better society on the principles that are taught at Exosphere Academy. ”

3 alex borrelli
biochemist, researcher
Age 24

"I had just been denied from graduate school and I was looking for an opportunity to continue my education and engage in academic science. That’s when one of the Exosphere curators told me about the Biohacking Stream."

Alex Borrelli was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. With both of his parents working in the medical sciences – his dad a nurse and his mom a respiratory therapist –, he got an early exposure to the scientific sensibility as well as human care. While studying Biochemistry and Glass Blowing at Jacksonville University for four years, he picked up valuable skills in mass spectrometry and Venetian chandelier craft. Since his graduation Alex has been working to build on that foundation. After finishing up an internship at a local environmental laboratory, he was looking for an opportunity to continue his education and engage in academic science.

His first choice, graduate school, fell flat. So when an Exosphere curator and friend of his told him about the biohacking course, his curiosity was piqued. He’d always had an idea to make a biofoam that first responders could inject into hemorrhaging wounds to staunch blood loss. The opportunity to start his own work on this technology while still in the early stages of his career was a major reason he eventually took a leap of faith and traveled down to South America.

While at Exosphere, Alex finally got the chance to put his ideas into action. His prototyping experiments culminated in a live demonstration of his trauma biofoam at Demo Dary. However, the best was yet to come: shortly after arriving back in the US, Alex got a job offer as a Research Technician in cancer research for Mayo Clinic, the #1 hospital in the US.

Drawing on both his formal education and the work he did at Exosphere, Alex is now part of a team using the power of stem cells to combat all kinds of liver damage, doing his part to solve the problems of the world.

“Exosphere really helped me the most by pushing me out of my comfort zone into a place that I was able to grow professionally. Living together with our other stream participants helped cultivate long term relationship building with collaborators.”

“While America is trending overall towards a becoming a nation less tolerant of diversity, I'm sitting in the cafe at Mayo Clinic listening to two groups of people speaking two different languages a couple tables over. At least I still have a faint glimmer of hope that we can embrace our differences and work together to forge a brighter future.”

4 yaroslav smirnow
marketing & advertising professional,
life coach
Age 40

"I did not know anything about this part of Brazil. It was the first time in my life I heard about the city of Florianopolis. But I was excited. Having visited a lot of places in the world before, the continent of South America was still an uncharted territory for me. I was happy to know that I will see a new place and meet new people. I also hoped that this new experience will open up a new chapter in my life."

Yaroslav Smirnov has worked in marketing and advertising for 17 years. Over the course of his career he has worked for some of the most well-known brands in the world, most notably Microsoft, Red Bull, and Coca Cola. Crafting strategy for country wide campaigns, he has a knack for big picture thinking while also being able to dive deep into the details of actual implementation. This has earned him a stellar reputation in his field and made him a highly sought after professional.

At the same time he has always been interested in a broad range of subjects outside the corporate world. Psychology, filmmaking, esoterics, sailing, Pilates, coding, trading – no discernible pattern emerges other than a general, strong curiosity and the will to get up and DO things. Having learned of Exosphere several years ago he had been looking for a way to participate for quite a while. So when the opportunity came, he decided to grab it, take the leap and enroll.

“It is an interesting combination of what you would normally expect from an educational program and some unexpected techniques. Community building was one of those things. It provided an interesting mechanic for introspection and dealing with the psychological part of forming a team and building a business. It was also good to realize that the program practically oriented with a strong "act, don’t speak" philosophy. Another important point is that the whole Exosphere team were very friendly and helpful during the whole program.”

“I feel that something changed in me during these two months. I do not yet realize what exactly it is and what it will bring into my life. And even though I do feel a bit of uncertainty since the future is unknown, I am more confident now about two things: (1) I know who I can rely on most in my endeavors (i.e. myself) and (2) there are now people in very different parts of the world I can easily reach out to for advice or help.”

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